East Aurora holds off Neuqua ValleyEast Aurora's Franky Ortiz, top, watches as Neuqua Valley's Nick Smith, left, and East's Abraham Kanneh battle for the ball during their game at Neuqua Valley High School on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2011 7:12PM
Advantage: East Aurora.
In a dual of two of the top teams in the Upstate Eight Conference, defending Valley champion East Aurora got a first-half goal Tuesday afternoon by newcomer Victor Corral to take down No. 5 Neuqua Valley 2-0 on the Wildcats’ senior night.
“It means we’re on it and we’re for real about winning conference,” Corral said. “Now we’re in the driver’s seat and I’m glad we are.”
Corral’s soft lob over Neuqua keeper Hunter Hollingshead on a through ball by Danny Miranda in the 19th minute proved to be the game winner for the Tomcats (8-3-1, 2-0).
“Just glad I had the opportunity,” Corral said. He gave me a really nice ball and the chance was there. Just glad we were able to finish it.”
East had 10 shots and five on goal in the first half to go with four corners, while Neuqua (7-3-1, 2-1) had none in all three categories.
“Today was just a game of opportunities,” Wildcats coach Tony Kees said. “We certainly didn’t play well, but we missed two ‘bunnies’ and had a goalkeeper error. In between the boxes, we didn’t play that great. Our midfield couldn’t connect a pass, but there is improvement. It’s better than it was three weeks ago.”
East struggled to possess in the second half and the Wildcats managed to get off a couple good scoring shots as a result. However, Neuqua freshman Ryan Ross’ 10-yarder sailed over the top of goal and Brian Benjamin’s header off a corner was wide left by a foot.
“They’re good on the ball,” Kees said about the Tomcats. “They’re opportunistic. They were motivated to beat us, and they deserved it. For our guys, it came down to opportunities.”
The Tomcats made it 2-0 with 6:08 left when Angel Diaz’s left-footed shot from 21 yards bent across goal and over the arms of Hollingshead-- the goalie mistake Kees referenced.
Next up for the Tomcats is South Elgin at home Thursday, while Neuqua will travel to Bartlett.
“They came in undefeated, so did we, everyone else had one loss,” Tomcats coach Jason Rollins said. “We knew if we got past this one we could decide our own destiny. We’re excited about it.”